The wound of the last night’s victory of Magic Wand politics is too fresh to discuss, so The Free Agent will instead encourage the use of the word political in general.
She means that to substitute for words like socialized, universal, and especially, government. In The Free Agent’s circle, the adjective government is understood to be shorthand for the concept of police force, or the few making decisions for the many, but outside we enlightened few, the word has an unhelpfully polarizing effect. Out in the world of public protest, one might as well wear a sandwich board saying “CRACKPOT!” as protest government intervention into the subject of the protest.
I’m sure we’ve also all seen the look of dismissal in a casual acquaintance’s eyes when we accidentally rely on the shibboleth “the government” to carry the weight of an argument. Depending on whom we’re speaking to, “the government” is benign, evil, peaceful, aggressive, the source of progress or its enemy, the protector of our rights or their eroder, an enlightened prince, or meat-headed bureaucrats. At worst, defending your free agency using the expression “the government” instantly brands you as what one of her Facebook friends calls “the mole people” (The Free Agent’s taste in associates is catholic)—irrational, ignorant, backward, inhumane. So don’t cede the intellectual playing field before kick-off.
Government is all the things above because it is comprised of people, no better or worse than the rest of us. We elect people we think represent us, not whom we think are superior to us, who can manage our daily lives better than we can. (The tables frequently tilt slightly when it comes to other people’s perceived ability to manage their lives.)
Which brings me to the utility of the word political. Its definition is narrower, more accurate, and carries less baggage than the word government.
We have carved out a huge new chunk of political health care. That means politicians will make decisions citizens previously made for themselves, according to different priorities. Again, I aver that politicians are no better or worse people than the rest of us, but the profession of politics sustains itself through money and votes, and politicians who resist their siren songs are as rare as they are courageous.
Political winds change, and we should always challenge pro-statists to defend their position should the butts in seats not represent their values in the future. Now you’ve handed your authority to someone who is not sympathetic to your desires, and we have all lost a little bit of our ability to govern our own lives.
By the way, Congress, how are things in Afghanistan and Iraq?